What can 311 data tell us about Louisville’s neighborhoods?

Editor’s Note; This story is the second in a series analyzing MetroCall 311 request data. Since the first story, we have expanded the number of MetroCall records substantially — from approximately 1 million to 1.8 million.

Louisville Metro Council District 5, and the West End more broadly, have generated the highest number of MetroCall 311 requests during the past 20 years, according to an analysis of such requests dating to 1997.

During that time, residents of District 5 have made more than 223,000 requests, which generally reflect the most popular issues citywide. That includes concerns like unchecked grass or exterior structure violations such as dilapidated buildings but also a heavy concentration of quality of life issues such as illegal dumping, dead animals, abandoned vehicles and vacant properties.

When the District 5 requests are combined with the council districts that round out the second and third spots — Districts 6 and 4, respectively — a correlation appears to emerge: The historically black, economically segregated areas of the city are home to the largest share of calls, as well as to the lion’s share of certain types of calls.

Graphic by Jonathan Meador

Of the 1.8 million request records, 595,000 (or just under 32 percent) were generated by the aforementioned three council districts. While those districts can be considered among the most densely populated areas of the city, they have some of the lowest overall population compared with other parts of the city, particularly suburban areas, which have seen robust growth over the past decade relative to the urban core.

As an example, by using 311 and U.S. Census data, we can tell that areas of the city with concentrations of low-income and predominantly black residents will very likely experience higher rates of missed garbage and recycling pickups. This apparent relationship between trash pickups and income was highlighted in a similar analysis conducted by the Houston Chronicle.

But that’s just one example. Let’s take a look at how some other issues are distributed among council districts across the city.

Weeds whacked

The data shows a massive decline in the number of reports of invasive plant life in the Louisville area, peaking in and ultimately declining by 2010, the last year of Mayor Jerry Abramson’s administration. District 5 was long the heavyweight in that category, but the number of 311 calls regarding weeds and high grass has fallen dramatically since 2013.

Graphic by Jonathan Meador

Broken meters

The late 90s saw a rise in the number of reports of broken meters, almost entirely in the 4th Council District, which includes the central business district, the civic district and the vast majority of metered-parking in the city. By 2005, the number of those reports virtually disappeared.

Graphic by Jonathan Meador

Trash can stealing on the rise

One of the most persistent — and growing — issues in the city appears, based on 311 calls, to be stolen garbage cans. Take a look here for yourself. Residents who need a replacement can visit this site.

Graphic by Jonathan Meador

Potholes, potholes, potholes

This area of comparison illustrates that no matter where you live in automobile-centric Louisville, you’re going to suffer a pothole (or several).

Graphic by Jonathan Meador

And the award for “most trash complaints” goes to …

The West End, urban core and neighborhoods around the Louisville International Airport rank as the areas with the highest number of garbage-related issues.

Graphic by Jonathan Meador